Rawlings v. Kentucky

LOCATION: E.L. Aaron & Co., Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 79-5146
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Kentucky Supreme Court

CITATION: 448 US 98 (1980)
ARGUED: Mar 26, 1980
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1980

J. Vincent Aprile, II, - on behalf of the Petitioner
Victor Fox - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

The police officers were authorized to arrest Rawlings and came to his home when four other persons were presented here. The officers found marihuana seeds after that two of them went to issue the warrant with the purpose to investigate the house. In that time two other delayed persons that were in the building, allowing them to go away if they would agree to body examination. In less than an hour, the officers came back with the permission, that was proclaimed before the suspected together with Miranda warnings. The officers investigated the drugs in the purse of Cox, who was the occupant. But Rawling affirmed that he asked her to hide them and narcotics were his. The officers found approximately 4,500 $ and a knife. The defendant was arrested and accused of the possessing with the intent to sell the drug found from the Cox`s purse.

The plaintiff filed a claim regarding the outlawed detention and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, but the court refused his lawsuit. The court of Appeal and the Kentucky Supreme Court confirmed the legality of all police actions grounded on the possible reasons of the crime.

The Supreme Court reviewed Rawlings v Kentucky ordered that Rawlings did not have enough legal rights to privacy in Cox`s handbag because he was met with her only a few days before, and never used his purse before that. The judges underlined that he had no reasons to confirm that other person`s search could impact on the infringement of his constitutional rights on the privacy.

After Rawlings v. Kentucky Court approved that at the nighttime visitors in the house have a lawful assumption of privacy enough to raise the question of the adherence to constitutional rules of searches and seizures in such conditions.


Media for Rawlings v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 26, 1980 in Rawlings v. Kentucky

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear argument next in No. 79-5146, Rawlings v. Kentucky.

Mr. Aprile, you may proceed.

J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

The case before you today presents four issues.

The primary issue is the first issue, and it deals with whether the petitioner, David Rawlings, has standing, that is, is he entitled to raise a violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments generated by the illegal search of the purse of Vanessa Cox and the seizure from that purse of property, including contraband drugs, on the basis that the property, one, belonged to Mr. Rawlings, and, two, on the basis that he was charged with an offense that was the possession of those very contraband drugs.

The second issue in this case deals with the question of whether the searches and seizures, all of them, not only of Vanessa Cox's purse but also of Mr. Rawlings, and the other incriminating evidence were the fruits of an unconstitutional detention and arrest of both petitioner and Vanessa Cox in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the federal Constitution.

The third issue and the fourth issue in the case are derivative issues that depend upon this Court finding the first issue in favor of the petitioner.

But I would point out to the Court that the third issue, that the search of Vanessa Cox's purse was unconstitutional, has been conceded in this Court by the respondent.

So the question is whether or not we are entitled to assert the illegalities in that situation.

I would immediately turn to that first issue and tell you that we are proceeding on three different theories.

We are proceeding first on the theory of automatic standing, because under any restrictive construction that you give to the doctrine of automatic standing, David Rawlings clearly qualifies.

The theory of the prosecution's case, the indictment, everything points to the fact that David Rawlings is charged with possession of these contraband drugs while they are in the purse of Vanessa Cox, and when they were searched, October 18, 1976 is the date of the crime and the date of the purse.

So there is no question as to whether or not we were entitled to automatic standing.

The question is --

Warren E. Burger:

Does it make any difference how they got into the young lady's purse?

J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

Your Honor, under the first analysis that we propose for automatic standing, we would suggest no, it does not matter how they got there, except in a situation -- no, I would say under automatic standing it would not matter.

John Paul Stevens:

Well, what if it turned out that the search of the purse was perfectly legal?

J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

I'm sorry, the question that was addressed to me, Your Honor, was how they got into the purse, not how it was taken out.

Warren E. Burger:

I see.

Was it important how they --

John Paul Stevens:

I thought his question meant whether getting into the purse was legal or not.

J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

Well --

John Paul Stevens:

Of course, it makes a difference whether it was legal, getting into the purse was legal or not.

J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

With regard to automatic standing?

John Paul Stevens:


J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

I would suggest with regard to automatic standing that would not deal with --

John Paul Stevens:

All right, you might have standing, the only thing is you would lose.

J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

On the question of the merits of it, yes.

John Paul Stevens:

You would lose.

J. Vincent Aprile, II,:

Yes, Your Honor, I agree with you.